What do you get when you bring together the who’s who of Singapore‘s local Malay comedians like Suhaimi Yusof, Alias Kadir, Zaleha Hamid, BJ Kadir, Hamzah Adon, Arif Esa, Sahfuddin Mahfudz, Zainal Ihim, Husin Saaban along with our legendary national comedy icon, Kumar and Malaysia‘s world-renowned chef and funnyman, Dato’ Chef Wan under one roof? I am sure the roof will fall, literally so to speak, as these legends of comedy will tickle your bones and fancy in a two and a half hour extravaganza dubbed “Komedi Vaganza 2019“! What’s more, there will be special appearances by Ustaz Zahid Zin, no stranger to our Malay community, as well as a mystery entertainer. Your guess on the identity of this mystery person is as good as mine, but I kind of have an inkling who it is, which I will not spoil for the sake of maintaining that element of surprise.
A show that promises and guarantees to be a laugh-a-minute event, Komedi Vaganza 2019, is brought to you by local beneficiary organisation Jamiyah Singapore and will be held on 30 November 2019 at the Shine Auditorium from 7:30pm-10:00pm. Tickets which can be bought from SISTIC, are priced at $48, $68 and $88 and proceeds go to supporting Jamiyah‘s nursing home for the aged, food bank for the needy, orphanage home and halfway house for drug offenders. Do give this event your utmost support! Be entertained, for a good cause!
Hosts Suzairhe Sumari and Huda Ali welcomed us to the show…
We kicked off the second half of the Anugerah 2017 competition last Tuesday, 21st February 2017, with the Top 6 vying for a place in the Grand Finals come 21st March 2017. Another two were set to be eliminated from the competition which would then leave us with just four contestants. Usually, the Grand Finals will be graced by the Top 4 or just three based on 2011‘s edition, so it made no sense to have a semi-final round this early unless the Wildcard Round was introduced. More on that later. I initially thought this was the first semi-final round, but they touted the show as a quarter-final instead. A bit odd when usually, a quarter-final round is made up of eight individuals or teams.
The judges taking time to discuss over their decisions during one of the commercial breaks…
This past week, the theme for the competition was songs nominated in Anugerah Planet Muzik. So far, Liwani Izzati has been the standout performer, sweeping three Top Spot awards over the three weeks that she performed onstage and running away with the $500 weekly prize money, which now stands at $1500 in total. I was beginning to think if she were to continue winning consistently, the competition might as well come to an abrupt end. Even several people said so on social media. Anyway I did not do any individual analysis last week, so this week, I will be making one and perhaps alluding to their previous performances which I did not get to do then, where space and circumstances permit.
When Liwani opened the night’s competition singing Ayda Jebat‘s “Pencuri Hati“, it was no surprise to see her challenged herself singing and dancing to the song cabaret-style. Every week, she tries to come up with something different, be it in song arrangement or showmanship. She is one of those who have the benefit of having a personal vocal coach and maximising whatever knowledge and guidance she has been receiving. Her consistent performances are testimony to what a good coach can do to help her, allied with her own personal will and determination to succeed in this competition. Being the first contestant, she had the unenviable task of setting the night’s standards and she did not disappoint overall. However, for the first time, I detected some notes going a bit off but that was to be expected when she not only had to sing, but danced and moved all over the stage. The swing-jazz music arrangement and cabaret-styled performance was much different from the alternative Techno-Dangdut version which Ayda Jebat performed at last year’s APM2016 and meant for the Indonesian market, but still giving the song a certain freshness. At this point, it was easy to predict, bar any unfortunate twist of fate via viewers’ votes, that she will be one of the four finalists on 21st March 2017.
Next up was Abby Nabila, who performed Kotak‘s “Kecuali Kamu“. When she did not perform well in Episodes 4 and 5, I could at least point to the fact that she had been feeling under the weather. However at this stage of the competition, a certain amount of competitiveness had to be present and this was sorely lacking, not only in Abby‘s performance, but also a few of her fellow contestants. I’ve seen many netizens up in arms over the past weeks, questioning her continued involvement in the competition but they could perhaps be forgiven for not knowing her health conditions then. I noticed the judges also tend to give her the benefit of doubt too because they know that she is one of the few contestants who is brave enough to try something out of the ordinary, like singing a male song or a song out of her own comfort zone. But as the competition wilts down, luck can only be with her for so long. Her performance last Tuesday was filled with many errors. For the third time in the course of the past six episodes, I detected that she has difficulties in hitting high notes or making the transitions between low and high. Such errors at this stage of the competition are considered criminal.
The only male constestant left, you can say that he somehow is the bastion of hope for his fellow males who still have any vested interest in the competition. I was a bit surprised when judge Indra Shahrir claimed that this was Shahfiq‘s best performance so far, but I found it odd that a “best performance” included flat notes and dodgy pitching issues. I personally feel that Shahfiq performed much better during Episode 3 than this latest offering where he sang Hafiz Suip‘s “Noktah Cinta“. My sentiments echoed that of Taufik Batisah‘s. He looked quite uncomfortable from the start, a little unsure with his stage movements and had a lot of problems with his low notes. The only positive mark I could give Shahfiq was his willingness to come out of his comfort zone and singing a more upbeat number to challenge himself. Self-confidence issues I believe, has been a mainstay since I watched Shahfiq from the first week. He needs to show that he is enjoying himself performing in front of others alone when all these while, he has been used to performing in his school’s choir group.
Another enigma in this year’s competition has been Shalyza Rosly. I expected a lot from her, given she had gone through the same competition in 2011. The experience she had then, should have given her the necessary tools to develop her performing style and have the edge over most contestants, just like Fauzie Laily had done when he entered Anugerah 2003 and 2005. The weekly complaints I have been hearing and seeing online about Shalyza has been her vocal similarities with Dato’ Siti Nurhaliza and I believe she is also sick of hearing it already. It has not helped her cause that she has been singing melancholic songs all these while. So when she performed Faizal Tahir‘s “Assalamualaikum“, I thought perhaps finally we would be listening to something out of the ordinary from her. However, the theme still remained the same with her sticking to her comfort zone of singing songs which are not of an upbeat tempo. I dunno why she chose this music arrangement over the original version, which as we all know is catchy and upbeat. I was also not sure what style Shalyza tried to inject into the song, but from the start, I was alarmed when she was consistently off-key. She tried to add gestures and movements into her performance but I thought they were a bit too incessant. When Shalyza did her 360 degree turn towards the end of her performance, I somehow knew her fate for the night was sealed.
While Shalyza‘s performances have stagnated somewhat, the performances of Elza Rahim, another fellow contestant with shades of Dato’ Siti Nurhaliza, has thankfully not digressed that much, at least from what I have been observing so far. I note that she has been trying hard to change her style of singing so that it would not sound too obvious to her beloved idol. But people will always compare, moreso when she chose to sing Dato’ Siti‘s “Lebih Indah” last Tuesday. It felt like a risky move, even the judges and her admitted that. One could however, see the effort she made in trying to sound different. My only complaint about Elza‘s performance, and this has been a running theme throughout the competition and not solely exclusive to her alone, is that most of them are so afraid of hitting the high notes or if they do, they tend to come up short. I dunno if a lack of practice, self-confidence, nervousness or preferring to still play it safe are combining factors for them not to challenge themselves further. I know it is not easy to hit the high notes. I cannot do it for the life of me, but I am not a singer to begin with, even though I used to have aspirations. But they are in this competition to win and show their mettle. They should give and want more.
Speaking of giving and wanting more, I noticed that Syakirah Noble has always been at the fringes of winning the weekly top spot, no matter if she had been placed as lowly as fifth before this in Episode 2 (I personally felt she deserved higher then). In fact she almost did in Week 5, before she was unceremoniously shunted to second spot by Liwani. Don’t be fooled by her girly personality when she speaks. Here is a fiesty and determined individual not content in letting her good friend sweep the top spot on a weekly basis. I will be brave enough to say Syakirah‘s performance this past week was the best so far in this competition. She performed Roze Kasmani‘s “Harum” with an almost identical music arrangement to that of Liwani‘s. But the similarities end there. Had former Anugerah resident judge Eddy Ali been at the hot seat, I can bet he would have said that Syakirah‘s performance had all the right “menjeng” (sultry) ingredients that were required to sing this number. This was a different facet to Syakirah‘s onstage personality, a pleasant surprise for those who watched. I saw a professional singer performed that night and not for the first time in the competition, Syakirah managed to make me have goosebumps watching her. Truly she deserved her top spot position by the night’s end.
Shalyza Rosly bade farewell to the competition…
As mentioned earlier and a continued weekly routine, two contestants had to be eliminated by the end of the night, one by the judges’ ranking decisions, the other by viewers’ votes. Shalyza Rosly who was eventually placed at sixth position once Elza Rahim had taken her spot at third, did not see her position changed right after the last commercial break of the night. I won’t say it was a difficult decision to make because at this stage of the competition, little things like flaws in technicalities and showmanship are quite easy to detect or could be the difference. Going off-key almost throughout her performance, I think the judges did not have to pull their hair out nor think too much about making an informed decision. For me, it was either Shalyza or Abby Nabila. Both were ranked the two lowest positions by the judges.
Abby Nabila was the next one to say goodbye to the competition, albeit temporarily…
After Shalyza had left the stage, it was the turn for the contestant with the least number of votes to make way. Abby Nabila found her luck had run out shortly afterwards. It came as a bit of a shock because right up till the last commercial break at least, Syakirah was the one with the least number of votes. Fortunately she was placed at the top, which granted her immunity for the week. For the first time, Liwani Izzati enjoyed getting the most number of votes by viewers. I had expected Elza Rahim‘s generous supporters to put her in a safe position yet again, but it was not to be. Finally we are seeing some dynamics changing in terms of viewers’ votes. Maybe viewers are starting to wise up and keep the deserving ones in the competition. Will this remain or will we revert back to the usual once the semi-final round kicks off next week??? We will only know properly then…
Wildcard Round contestants (from left): Sharizal Suwandi, Nor Shafiq, Nadia Nadhirah, Abby Nabila and Azhar Aziz…
Just before the show ended, we were finally informed of the Wildcard Round, which will be held tomorrow 28th February 2017. Out of the eight contestants who have been eliminated between Episodes 3-6, five were selected to fight it out once again for a final redemption back into the competition. I had earlier expected Azhar Aziz, Nadia Nadhirah, Sharizal Suwandi and Nor Shafiq to be reinstated because I personally felt they deserved to based on their performances during the weeks they were eliminated. The fifth spot, however, was anyone’s guess. As it is, the judges decided to give Abby Nabila a reprieve. This was where social media was again up in arms. Personally I would have given it to Hakim Halim, but upon reflection, Hakim Halim and Shalyza Rosly are quite one-dimensional and similar, in that their strengths and forte are more towards Rock and Ballad respectively. As mentioned before, Abby gets into the judges’ good books for her bravery in wanting to try something different, even if sometimes the end product does not come out as satisfactorily as planned. Will she prove her doubters wrong??? We will only know tomorrow…
The Top 4 who progressed into the semi-finals – Liwani Izzati, Elza Rahim, SyakirahNoble and MohammadShahfiq…
For the Top 4 who progressed this past week, they must have heaved a sigh of relief upon knowing they were able to put their feet up and enjoy the week off. However, it will not be any easy, as anyone from the five chosen to be in the Wildcard Round are able to upset the apple cart once the semi-finals beckoned. So how many from the Wildcard Round will progress this coming week? Will it be two or three out of the five? We will only find out when the competition resumes tomorrow live from Studio One at Mediacorp Campus at 8:30pm. For those watching from the comfort of home, I don’t have to remind you which channel the live telecast will be aired…
Thank God for the long holiday weekend that I am able to post this up much earlier than usual. This past Tuesday 24 January 2017, saw the debut of another eight contestants of the new season of Anugerah, this time under the banner of Group B. Continuing from the previous week where the contestants sang a song of their own personal choice, the eight contestants had the opportunity to upstage their Group A counterparts, having had an extra week to prepare and study their performances during the first episode. Looking at the make-up of the eight contestants this week, there are several who have had experiences performing in various competitions before this and even before listening to them, I more or less expected them to progress, bar any hiccups via the SMS votes by the audience in the studio or at home. So without further ado, let’s start off with the first contestant.
Elza Rahim kicked off the night’s competition by singing Wany Hasrita‘s “Menahan Rindu“. Truth be told, I have not heard this song being played on our local airwaves before and had to rely on a friend to inform me on the identity of the original singer and listened to it again afterwards. But the first time I watched Elza‘s performance at the studio, I noted that she has a very rich and classical tone of voice. However that tone and style of singing also tend to sound like a certain top notch Dato’ across the Causeway. Elza has to be mindful not to sound like Dato’ Siti Nurhaliza, as many singers before her who tended to go this route, ended up being forgotten as quickly as they appeared. She already has a nice voice to begin with, she should hone it in such a way that she does not become another clone or copycat. A very composed performance which was slightly let down by one part where she went flat. Though I thought it was a decent start to the night, I also agreed with judges Taufik Batisah and Indra Shahrir that it was at best, an average performance, with Elza being more in her comfort zone.
Zul Nor should be applauded for his bravery in singing Sufi Rashid‘s “Kisah Dua Muka“, a song which is not easy to sing to begin with. However that is as far as I can go to rate his performance. It was a bit too dramatic for my liking with all his hand gestures and movements, it felt more like watching a musical theatre performance than an actual singing one. I thought I was alone in thinking he was trying too much to channel Sufi‘s style of singing into his performance, but this was also brought up by judge Indra, who noted that he was seeing two different personalities in the song, one of Zul Nor and the other being Sufi‘s. Najip Ali also brought up a pertinent point in that a song of such varying dynamics should also have a certain softness injected into it. Upon reflection and watching the performance again, I realised that Zul Nor pressed more on the intense and rage associated with the song.
I last watched Syakirah Noble performed live at the launch of Fiza O’s Ritabella collection five years ago at Joo Chiat Complex. She was only 12 then but it was easy to see that this girl, with the right attitude, practice and application, can go far. She is one of those I had mentioned earlier who loves to enter singing competitions and I am glad to see that she has made it this far. Syakirah sang Agnes Monica‘s “Rindu“, another tough song to sing with all the varying notes and the challenging high ones. I was afraid she might buckle under pressure, but there was nothing of that sort, as she gave an accomplished performance, which bothered a bit on overconfidence and this was cautioned by Najip Ali. Personally I felt it was a bit too much of Agnes Monica‘s soul and style being put into the song. I wanted to see more of Syakirah‘s. I think this is where she can work on, to infuse her own identity into the songs she sings. Take nothing away however, I had goosebumps listening to her, my personal indicator on how much I loved her performance.
Other than knowing Raja Zul‘s background as quite the model student in school, being in the Top 5-10% cohort, I did not know that this relative from my missus’ side, actually has a talent for singing and playing the guitar. When I chatted with him after the first episode ended, he said that he was going to perform Jaz Hayat‘s “Dari Mata” in his own style and adding new lyrics of his own into the song. I thought then that it was a good, yet risky move since he said he wanted to portray his personality to the audience. While I cannot fault his showmanship on Tuesday night, his singing was everywhere. He sounded quite nervous and pitchy at the start and there were times during the short pauses in the song where he could be seen strategically catching his breath. The judges loved his falsetto though and like Najip, I too liked that he chose a song which was concurrent with the times, even if Taufik had said the song was not quite suited for a competition.
Abby Nabila is another one who has had experience in a reality competition, and hers has been a very fruitful one when she entered the first season of Indonesia‘s reality Dangdut singing competition D’Academy Asia in late 2015, under the stage name Abby Tinara. Even though she was eliminated early, her learning experience and rubbing shoulders with some very good performers as well getting valuable mentorship, put her in good stead on how to be an accomplished performer and own the stage. So it was no surprise that Abby put in a performance befitting of her experience on Tuesday night, challenging herself to sing a male song, Hazama‘s “Ku Relakan Jiwa“. Her performance, like Zul Nor‘s, was filled with theatrics and hand gestures, but hers felt like they had more of an impact because she knew which parts were suitable to include them. Off-stage, she is quite the bubbly personality, just that sometimes she needs to curb her exuberance and dramatics, so as not to rub others the wrong way. Someone with her personality, you will either love her or feel she’s overacting. In a reality competition where viewers votes matter as well, it would be best to find that middle ground to win over the doubters or haters.
I think even without saying it here, if you had watched both episodes of Anugerah since its return on our television screens, or if you had caught the clips via the Mediacorp Suria Facebook page, you will agree with me that Nor Shafiq is the best male contestant so far with his soulful voice and measured performance. I could not detect a single flaw when I watched him sang Hafiz Suip‘s “Ku Akui” live, but when I watched his performance again, there was one minor part when he went slightly off as he was hitting the high notes. But it did not matter much. Shafiq immediately installed himself as one of the favourites in this competition with that performance, another one that made my hairs stood. 376 shares of his performance clip on Facebook to date, is a good indicator that he has made his presence felt.
Nadia Nadhirah was up next with her own rendition of Dayang Nurfaizah‘s “Di Pintu Syurga“. For someone who is majoring in music at LaSalle College of the Arts, her standard of performance was to be expected as it comes with the territory and expectation. Just like how I was expecting last year’s Anugerah Skrin winner, Syaiful Ariffin, a theatre undergraduate then, to perform much better than his competition rivals. Though I would not categorise her performance amongst the Top 3 on Tuesday night, there is a certain strength in Nadia‘s voice that sets her apart from the rest. Not many can sing low notes in measured degrees and in control without going flat. However she did give away her uncertainty at various points sounding as though she was unsure how to end off her lines. I also felt the performance was empty and lacking emotions needed for a song of this magnitude. I remember how much it moved others when the original singer herself performed this song at Anugerah Juara Lagu two years ago. The judges might have said they loved it, but I did not quite like it.
Sharizal Suwandi rounded off the night with The Sally‘s “Jauh“. For some reason only known to the audience, the whole studio erupted and were in raptures when he came onstage. It felt as though he had everyone on his side, even though the audience was also made up of supporters of the other seven contestants. There was a certain unexplained appeal and likeability factor about the oldest contestant in the competition. However he needs to translate that into a performance worthy of the support he was given in the coming weeks ahead. His performance was at best, average, flat and pitchy in many parts, but one thing I cannot fault was the feel-good factor he gave everyone who watched him in the studio. Even his fellow contestants were seen swaying and clapping along to his singing. But feel-good factors usually do not last long and as the competition wilts down, standards and expectations are raised even higher. He was placed at eighth position right after his performance had ended and I felt it was a fair position.
A dejected-looking Raja Zul smiled as the reality of his elimination sunk in…
However, there was a twist right after the final commercial break, as upon doing their final consultations and counsel with one another, the judges decided to play musical chairs once again and switched the positions of Raja Zul and Sharizal. I dunno if the judges “feared” the possibility of the audience baying for their blood had they eliminated Sharizal, but it certainly felt that way. No I am saying this not because of my relation ties with Raja Zul, but I initially agreed that their original positions were more than justified according to the performances they gave and in comparison with all the other contestants that night. Maybe the judges also took into account the support that Sharizal had and how he connected with the audience, which was probably why they decided to give him a second chance to prove himself the next time out. If I was the judge for the night, I would have had Abby Nabila at second position, followed by Syakirah Noble, Elza Rahim, Nadia Nadhirah, Zul Nor, Raja Zul and Sharizal Suwandi as my final ranking positions.
Zul Nor became the fourth contestant in total to be eliminated from the competition…
As for the second elimination of the night by virtue of the least number of votes, Zul Nor who was ranked sixth by the judges, was the one who made way and exited the competition. What struck me the most when his name was announced and just before he made his way off the stage, was his polite unwillingness to shake the hands of his fellow female counterparts and kept his arms to his chest and bowed at them. A rare sight in the entertainment scene that earned him my respect. Was his elimination to be expected??? I would say yes and no. Yes because it was a toss-up between him, Raja Zul and Sharizal had it been solely the judges’ decision to eliminate two out of three. No, because throughout the night we were informed from time to time that Abby Nabila, Syakirah Noble and Raja Zul had the least number of votes, so it could have been just about anyone who could have been eliminated in that respect.
The six who progressed from Group B(from left): Sharizal Suwandi, Syakirah Noble, Elza Rahim, Abby Nabila, Nadia Nadhirah and Nor Shafiq…
So far even with an equal amount of gender elimination on the opening first two weeks, I observed that the female contestants are technically more astute than their male counterparts and will not be surprised if eventually there will be a lop-sidedness to the competition, much like the last one in 2011. This coming Tuesday 31st January 2017 sees the return of Group A on our television screens. We were told before the night ended that the coming fortnight’s theme for both groups would be the Rock genre. This would be right up the alleys of the likes of Hakim Halim and Abby Nabila, who have shown that they are able to carry the genre, even if a lot can still be improved in terms of their delivery, execution, style and showmanship. Who knows, others might just up their game and prove that they are also no pushovers??? We shall see when Anugerah returns on our television screens this Tuesday at 8:30pm…
I did say in my promo entry a week ago that I am uncomfortable to review theatre plays and productions for the fact that I do not have a theatre background nor understand most of the technicalities to dispense my thoughts. But as I was typing my thank yous and gratitude to the main people at Sri Warisan Som Said Performing Arts Ltd, notably Madam Som Said and Marina Yusoff, for an extremely enjoyable experience last night, it dawned on me that not only should the main people be reading my thoughts, but the whole production team as well as the performers who numbered more than 117 should also be reading this on a more public platform, since I am not connected to everyone on Facebook due to my personal policy of being connected to only people I have met before in person. Hence this entry.
This rather short entry is also to share my personal experience as a watching audience, rather than as an astute observer or critic. Also for the fact that I want to surprise Marina and the production team, since they surprised me last night with a heartwarming gesture (more on that in a bit). Last night was one of the rare occasions that I did not bring my trusty DSLR nor video camera to catch the moments, but I think it is perfectly alright not to include photographs nor video clips in this entry, as I do not want to act as the proverbial spoiler for those who will be watching the final two shows later today. Anyway for those who are wondering, tickets are still available and can be purchased at the Kallang Theatre entrance. Just note that the two shows today are at 3pm and 8pm.
From a watching audience’s perspective, the missus and I enjoyed the whole production very much, and this is not because of what happened towards the end (again more on that in a bit). For me personally, I was blown away by the digital backdrop and various stage props which made the kampung and beach setting come alive. Each character was responsible in bringing out their respective roles and played with our emotions, in a good way literally so to speak. We felt tickled by the actions of Amza (Hamzah Adon), we felt anger by the dastardly acts of Memanda Menteri (Fauzie Laily), we felt the sadness and anxiety of the kampung folk towards the end. While the tears welled in my eyes towards the end, I noticed many others in the audience as well as my other half sniffing and dabbing their eyes, thanks to the excellent combination of the script, the actions as well as the soundtrack and its meaningful lyrics.
Like what I told Marinavia Facebook, everything that was promised during the media conference three weeks ago was delivered and executed, even going beyond my wildest imaginations of what the surprises would be. But during the media conference itself, something in me detected that Bollywood elements would be injected into this production, even though it was not mentioned by Music Director, Zubir Abdullah. I was pleasantly surprised that my gut feelings came true last night. What astounded me in that particular segment was Marina herself. Put her in any costume and she will bring the character to life. She can be a kampung girl, a princess, a palace maid and you can be sure that she will look the part. Likewise during the short Bollywood segment, I saw a Hindi actress on stage.
There were also other twists in store like the injection of rap and hip-hop into the mix. Traditionalists might frown upon that particular segment since it was done with the performers wearing traditional royal costumes. But I thought it was a nice twist, a fresh element breathing life into royal subjects who are normally known as uptight and serious people at the mercy of the King or Sultan‘s commands. Though I have been waxing lyrical towards the production, I did detect a minor shortcoming. At times the characters’ voices were inaudible or drowned by the background music. I think that can be taken aboard and improved upon for the final two shows. Still, the minor problem was not enough to make me detract from saying it was an excellent show. If you ask me, given the injection of support and sponsors, it would be good if this production is staged abroad and adding more colourful elements. I’m hoping Malaysia‘s Istana Budaya would invite the production over for starters.
And finally to that pleasant surprise at the end of the show. As a small-time blogger, not paid for what I do as a hobby and mere passion to report and promote stuff on our local Malay entertainment scene, a mere mention of my moniker on the public address system at the end, made the heart flutter in excitement, to go along with the list of social and mainstream media mentioned for their respective coverage and promotional works. To be thanked in print on the programme book, made it even more worthwhile of the work l’ve done all these years. This is a definite first for me and one that I am very much thankful and feel honoured for. It gives me the impetus and inspiration to continue, as doing what I do on my own does not reward me in monetary terms. There were times too that I felt it wasn’t worth it, no thanks to several bad experiences. It has however given me satisfaction in making others smile and feel encouraged. Above all, it has introduced me to talented and inspirational individuals as well as groups. Thank you Sri Warisan!!! This means so much to me…
P.S. I said this was a short entry but knowing long-winded me, six paragraphs is kinda long, don’t you think??? 😛
I purposely post this entry about a week before the musical play goes live at the Kallang Theatreso as to generate that hype even further, to go along with the ones some of you might have read in Berita Harian last week, or / and seen the short capsule on Mediacorp Suria. For the first time ever, I was invited to cover a media conference-cum-preview, involving one of our local Malay performing arts group’s latest offering “Bendahara – A Betrayal“. And this is not any group I’m talking about. It is the well-respected Sri Warisan Som Said Performing Artsgroup, no stranger to most of us and a brand name which is synonymous in upholding traditional Malay culture and heritage, in the form of dance and theatre.
It has to be said that I seldom post something pertaining to our local arts scene. It is not that I am not interested, but I seldom have the time and opportunity to watch and support such shows. At the same time, I feel at ease giving them the promo rather than reviewing their show. This is because, hand to heart, I am not a professional nor have any experience in the scene to understand the technicalities and background that some other known writers might have. Hence, this blog seldom features reviews or talk about the local performing arts scene. I do not want to come across as a know-all when my knowledge of the scene is practically zero to begin with. I wouldn’t mind watching if I have the opportunity, but I won’t feel comfortable having to review them afterwards. Like Fiza O‘s recent event which I reported in the last entry, I felt obliged to attend this media conference-cum-preview session of Sri Warisan‘s latest production, thanks to a personal invite I received from Marina Yusoff, the musical play’s Production Director.
“Bendahara – A Betrayal“, is staged based on events that happened on these shores, most notably when Singapore was “attacked” by swordfish or otherwise known in our Malay folklore as “Singapura Dilanggar Todak“. Till today, debates still rage on whether the incident did really happened or whether it is just a mythical folklore as a form of entertainment and storytelling for children alike. However, where the original story centred upon the character of Hang Nadim, the boy who was smart enough to outwit the swordfish but in the end, fell prey to the jealousy of those working in the royal palace, this play centres upon the character of Aman a.k.a. Bendahara (played by Hatta Said), the Chief Minister who was tasked to take away Hang Nadim, who also happens to be his step-brother. I will not play the spoiler by telling you how the story would end, as we were not told about it during the preview itself, so your guess is as good as mine.
From the preview, I was very much moved by the acting talents of Asnida Daud, who is making her theatre return in this production. She plays the character “Mak Limah“, the mother of both Aman and Hang Nadim. The scene where Tok Penghulu was to be arrested by Memanda Menteri and the royal guards was a particularly moving and compelling one, so much so that I had tears welling in my eyes when I watched it live, and again when I was compiling video highlights of the preview-cum-media conference. She is that good, cos she executed the right combinations in terms of physical movements, emotive facial and voice expressions at the exact moments. I felt her character come alive, moreso since she shed real tears too during that scene. Other characters to look out for are Memanda Menteri, the dual persona being played by Fauzie Laily, as well as Amza (Hamzah Adon), who provides the light-hearted moments in the play. And of course the main character himself.
This production is special for the fact that Sri Warisan reaches out to the younger generation by including students from Yuying Secondary School, Bedok Green Secondary School and Damai Secondary School. Also for the opportunity given to some of their performers, who have been with them for about five years, to come up with a choreography item for various scenes in the play. They have also invited Malaysia‘s Akademi Seni Budaya & Warisan Kebangsaan (ASWARA) Dancers to be a part of the play. Along with the fusion of silat choreography by Pesilat Pusaka Karuhun and Pesilat Tapak Suci Muhammadiyah, the play promises to be a spectacle for viewers, with elements of Disney and Hollywood incorporated into the mix, as was testified by Music Director, Zubir Abdullah, one of my favourite local singers.
Less than a week left to the show, I am very excited about this production as the preview promised a play that we can be proud of, if it is to be staged abroad as an advertisement on our culture and heritage, the marriage between dance and theatre. I strongly recommend that you get your tickets soon as they are selling fast at $28 each. The show will be staged at Kallang Theatre on 30th and 31st March 2012 at 8pm, with an added matinee show at 3pm on Saturday. There was a small birthday celebration afterwards for Marina and Huda Rahim, the head choreographer of the production, who share the same birthday (9th March) and those who attended got to sample “Pulut Kuning” and a variety of other traditional Malay food and kuehs. Thank you once again to Marina Yusoffand the good people at Sri Warisan Som Said Performing Arts Ltd.for the kind invitation, hospitality and good food served that night. I hope your upcoming production will be a resounding success!!!
After such a heady month of March where this blog had a post at a rate of every other day, it’s back to its normal hiatus stage. For those of you hoping to view photographs of the recent Rock Elektra event or wanting to read the latest happenings during the Anugerah 2011 auditions held at East Point Mall over the weekend before last in this blog, I have to apologise first and foremost cos I did not attend either events due to more pressing issues at work and at home. I would have loved to attend the latter to see the talents and potentials on offer but alas my schedule was a bit too tight for me to bring to you what went on over at East Point Mall. I know the topic of Pesta Perdana 11 is kinda stale by now, but I did plan a three-parter posting on it, with this being the icing on the cake. Since I did not attend Rock Elektra and the Anugerah 2011 auditions this past weekend, I hope this posting would more than make up for it and acts as a filler. The photographs are a selected few I’ve chosen for your viewing, since only my Facebook contacts are able to view the whole collection…